Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Control your energy costs no matter what winter brings

Wisconsin  winters can be brutal. That’s why we’re sharing these no- and low-cost tips to help you manage your energy costs all season long — no matter how low those wind chills may get.

No cost

Dial it down: Lower your thermostat when you’re asleep or away. Even a few degrees can make a big difference. 

Let the sunshine in: Open your shades, blinds and drapes during the day to let in the warmth of the sun. Close them at night to keep the warm air in.

Check your water heater: If it’s set higher than 120 degrees F, you’re likely using more energy than you need to wash your hands, clean dishes and wash your clothes. 

Put your ceiling fan to work: Run your ceiling fan clockwise at the lowest speed. This moves the warmer air trapped near the ceiling down and around the room. 

Low cost

Cover drafty windows: Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame.

Seal cracks and gaps: Don’t let cold air creep in through poorly sealed windows or doors. Use caulk or weatherstripping to stay comfortable.

Replace your furnace filter: Dirty filters reduce airflow and make your furnace use more energy. Replace it monthly during the heating season, or buy a high-efficiency filter than can last several months.

Focus on Energy: Check out our partners at Focus on Energy for instant discounts on energy-efficient products like LED bulbs, smart thermostats and power strips. You may even qualify for a free energy-saving kit!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Keep your family safe with these cold weather tips

Winter can be a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy the snow or hibernate indoors, but the cold temperatures can also pose some problems. Use these winter tips to be prepared and to keep yourself and your family safe and warm.

Be prepared: Be prepared for winter power outages by assembling an emergency kit with blankets, flashlights and battery-powered chargers for your cellphones. Save our number to your phone to call if your power goes out: 800-261-5325. 

Keep meters clear: Wipe away winter hazards by keeping meters and vents free from snow and ice. Clear away snow using your hands or a broom — never use a shovel or other sharp object. Remove icicles and snow hanging above the meter, and use caution when shoveling or using a snowblower near the meter.

Space heater safety: If you plan to use a space heater, do so safely. Only use newer models with safety features like automatic shut-off. Place heater on a flat surface away from children and pets. Avoid using extension cords, and keep the heater at least 6 feet away from combustible materials like drapes or blankets.

Safe sleeping: Do not take risks with your electric blanket. When you’re not using your blanket, turn it off to reduce the risk of fire. Keep pets away from electric blankets, as their teeth and claws can puncture wire insulation and cause damage.

Prevent carbon monoxide dangers: The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is greater during the winter months. Be prepared and stay safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector, checking heating vents for blockages and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning.

Prevent furnace issues: Have your furnace inspected by a qualified technician and clean or replace furnace filters as needed. 

Keep clutter away from furnace: Keep the area around the furnace and water heater free of clutter, and never store flammable liquids near those areas. Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of fire and damage to the furnace.

Oven safety: Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. Make sure the burner flame on your stove is blue. A yellow flame may indicate the need for an adjustment.